SALT LAKE CITY—Admittedly, there was some mental hangover after an emotional victory over BYU on Wednesday. Utah held just a three point lead over Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne at halftime, but eventually cruised to a 96-79 victory at the Jon M. Huntsman Center.
“No disrespect to IPFW at all,” said Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak. “I don’t think it matters who you play after BYU. There’s gotta be a certain percentage of your brain that’s still trying to recover from it all. I know it’s a lot of enthusiasm and talk and different things.”
“We had a bunch of mental breakdowns,” Krystkowiak said. “That team played a lot harder than us in the first half.” Utah was slow on defense in the first half, allowing IPFW to 16-36 shooting, including 4 made three-pointers. Utah was fortunate the Mastodons missed more open looks from the perimeter than they made.
“Just about every ‘hustle stat’ they had won, coming into our building,” Krystkowiak said. “So it was pretty easy to challenge our guys that we need to have a little bit more pride than that and really button it down.”
His Utes turned it on in the second half, shooting 71% from the floor. Lorenzo Bonam lit up, scoring 15 points to add to Jakob Poeltl’s 13 second-half points. Bonam and Poeltl, who ended with 21 total points, were two of five Utes than ended up scoring in double figures. Jordan Loveridge, Kyle Kuzma, and Brekkott Chapman finished with 18, 16, and 10 points, respectively.
The Mastodons made nine of fourteen three-point attempts in the second half. That’s the fourth team that’s surprised Utah with three-point shooting, according to Krystkowiak. The others include Temple, San Diego State, and Southern Utah. Krystkowiak attributes diluted perimeter defensive play to a hole in scouting reports and game plans, dismissing a new emphasis for officials in calling fouls.
Loveridge disagreed. “When you think about the new rules, a lot of guys, including myself, are worried about getting fouls,” Loveridge said. “You’re thinking guys are going to drive and try get you in foul trouble. So I think that’s a big thing. Just a mindset-type thing. I think we need to get back into the mindset of not thinking a lot and just making sure we’re getting out to shooters.”
Utah will next head to Wichita, Kansas, to face the Shockers of Wichita State next Saturday, December 12th. Tipoff on ESPN700 and ESPN2 will be at 1:30MT.
Larry Krystkowiak Postgame Press Conference:
Jordan Loveridge and Kyle Kuzma Postgame Press Conference:
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